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MISSOULA, Mont.-The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has received a $1 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation for educational exhibits, displays and a story theater at a new visitor center to be constructed near Winslow Hill, Pa.

Groundbreaking is scheduled later this year for the Elk Country Visitor Center located in the Pennsylvania Wilds. A grand opening is expected by late 2009.

The new conservation education and tourism attraction, a $12 million project, is being developed around local input and a wide variety of public and private partners. Planned designs, exhibits and programs are the result of partnerships between the Elk Foundation, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Benezette Township residents, local officials and business owners, educators and students.

“We couldn’t be more proud of the way this project is coming together and we’re gratified that the Richard King Mellon Foundation shares our vision. Thanks to their generosity, we can better educate and inspire the public to help ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat in Pennsylvania,” said David Allen, Elk Foundation president and CEO.

Mike Watson, trustee and senior vice president of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, said, “We’re pleased to partner with the Elk Foundation and Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to complete this world-class education facility, and to build on our previous successes for conservation in Pennsylvania.”

In 2006, the Mellon Foundation and Elk Foundation joined forces to acquire the 1,378-acre Kettle Creek property now managed as part of the Sproul State Forest.

Rawley Cogan, who’s worked with elk and elk habitat in Pennsylvania since 1982, is leading the Elk Foundation’s capital campaign for the new visitor center. With two-thirds of the needed funding now in place, the campaign aims to raise another $4 million. For more information on the Elk Country Visitor Center, visit www.pennsylvaniaRMEF.org or contact the Elk Foundation at 800-CALL ELK.

In April, the Elk Foundation announced its own grants for conservation projects in Pennsylvania. Grants are based on revenues from Elk Foundation fundraising banquets in the state. A total of $86,571 has been awarded for elk habitat enhancement in Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton and Elk counties. Another $17,314 is allocated for grants to be announced later this year, plus $69,225 in funding for the new visitor center.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Missoula, Mont., the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. The Elk Foundation and its partners have permanently protected or enhanced over 5.2 million acres, a land area larger than Connecticut, Delaware and District of Columbia combined. More than 500,000 acres previously closed to public access are now open for hunting, fishing and other recreation. To help protect wild elk country or learn more about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, visit www.elkfoundation.org or call 800-CALL-ELK.